Coaching Clients Across the Finish Line

Identifying goals is just the start of a fruitful client relationship. Advisors succeed by understanding clients’ fears, weaknesses, and temptations—their financial french fries, if you will.

Brian, a silver medalist in cycling at the Atlanta Olympics who also rode with the powerhouse Motorola and 7-Eleven Cycling Teams, picked up on my weaknesses right away. My training had been kind of aimless. I had covered a lot of miles but without the variation in speed, distance, and intensity required to improve.

Since we started working together, my power output has increased significantly, a difference I can feel every time I climb a hill or set out for a long ride. He also scheduled rides so that travel didn’t become an excuse for watching movies in my hotel room instead of working out.

Every year around Christmas, Brian and I get together to discuss what we’d like to accomplish. Last year, with a milestone birthday looming, I picked the August 15 Leadville MTB race.

There was one big problem. The 100-mile course rises above 12,000 feet. At the time, I was living in the flats of London. Brian solved this by incorporating lots of interval training into my rides, which mimicked the stress of riding at altitude.

Edging out the competition

It’s exactly the kind of behavioral coaching advisors do when they help clients plan for goals and stick with their long-term plans even when the air in the financial markets gets thin. This kind of coaching is the biggest contributor to Vanguard Advisor’s Alpha®, and advisors who practice it spend more time cultivating relationships instead of reacting to markets.

If you’d like more ideas on how to shift your practice in this direction, check out our behavioral coaching tool kit.

Emphasizing your role as coach in client pitches can elevate you above your competition and may work especially well with experienced investors—the ones who know what they should be doing but lack the time and discipline to get it done. And if you’ve told stories like this one in your own practice to explain the value you provide, I’d love to hear about them, so please share them in the comments section below.


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